BBG Watch Commentary

Obama State of the Union 2016 Photo

BBG Watch was alerted by concerned Voice of America (VOA) journalists that VOA Central English Newsroom provided VOA services this morning with a highly unipartisan and therefore unbalanced list of congressional reaction interviews about President Obama’s State of the Union Address last night.

An email sent out by VOA’s Media Resource Team at 11:15 AM EST, January 13, 2015, states that “VOA Central News interviewed various lawmakers reactions following President Obama’s State of the Union Address,” but the attached list shows 10 Democratic members of the U.S. Congress and only three Republican members.

VOA foreign language services are technically not obliged to use these interviews, but they were certainly provided by the VOA Central English News operation with much more material to use, if they choose to, from one side of the American political spectrum.

They [VOA Central News] obviously took whoever they could get to the microphone/camera,” one concerned former VOA Central News correspondent explained the lack of balance.

“No one appeared to have been in charge of coordinating VOA Central News reaction coverage,” another former VOA journalist observed.

“This may also show that VOA Central News reporters have many more contacts with Democratic lawmakers, even though Republicans now have the majority in Congress,” a former VOA executive observed.

This could be bad news for VOA since it needs strong bipartisan support to prevent cuts to its budget or to get more funding.

VOA Central News reporting on the State of the Union was not as unbalanced as the list of lawmakers’ reaction interviews might suggest, but it was heavy in favor of President Obama.

One VOA Central News report on the address had six President Obama-related videos or photos, but not a single video or photo of any Republicans reacting to his speech. GOP response got only six sentences in the VOA report.

The second point of the VOA Charter states: “VOA will represent America, not any single segment of American society, and will therefore present a balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions.”


Sent: Wednesday, January 13, 2016 11:15 AM
To: Media Resource Team; DP Field Ingest Team; VOA Assignments Editors; VOA Audio Services; VOA Central Editors; VOA Central Production; VOA Domestic Correspondents; VOA Language Service Chiefs; VOA Newsroom; VOA MEDIA TEAMS
Subject: REVISED: (D+) VOA / Interviews / Lawmakers / Post SOTU

VOA Central News interviewed various lawmakers reactions following President Obama’s State of the Union Address last night. The interviews are located in Ad Hoc 2 and will be saved in the Video Library / VOA Materials / VOA Interviews in Dalet Plus. Below is a list of the members of Congress interviewed (REVISED FOR TITLES AND PARTY AFFILIATION)

Rep. John Garamendi (D -Calif., 3rd District)

Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.)

Rep. Mike Quigley (D- Illinois, 5th District)

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va., 11th District)

Rep. Mike Honda (D- Calif., 17th District)

Rep. Tom Merino (R-Penn., 10th District)

Rep. Eddie Berinice Johnson (D-Texas, 30th District)

Rep. Eliott Engel (D-N.Y., 16th District)

Rep. James French Hill (R-Ark., 2nd District)

Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va., 1st District)

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D- Texas, 18th District)

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif., 30th District)

Rep. Al Green (D-Texas, 9th District)

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